Saturday, September 21, 2013

North Carolina

I'm in North Carolina for the next week for a zoo keeper conference.  I'm excited for countless reasons, but the main ones are that I love road trips, I've never been to a national level conference before and my doctor said I don't have to wear my boot as long as I'm not doing anything strenuous.  I've been wearing the boot for the past 7 weeks, including all week at work last week.  I'm sick of it!  Back to work went really well.  My first day back I was in so much pain when I got home I thought maybe I made a mistake.  I iced my foot and then used my heat wrap and was a lot better in the morning.  I then started icing my foot during my morning break and lunch and the difference at the end of the day was huge.  By Thursday (my Friday) I was much better than I was on Sunday.  My foot still hurts, but it's not the unbearable pain that kept me out of work.  I went off all my pain meds ~6 weeks ago and switched to all natural options.  I'm taking a specially formulated joint pain vitamin pack along with an herbal anti-inflammatory.  I would normally assume the holistic approach is a bunch of hooey, but it seems to be working at least as well as the prescription that was giving me all kinds of nasty symptoms. 

Back to North Carolina...  I left Friday morning after I dropped the kids off at school.  I took my time and drove without any real goal in mind.  I stopped at interesting rest areas and landmarks.  I found a really cool Audubon center near Dayton that had a great sitting room overlooking a large bird feeder area with a water feature.  I enjoyed the scenery and pulled into Charleston just as it was getting dark.  I would have liked to drive another hour or two, but I decided that I wanted to be able to see my surroundings.  It was a wise decision because the drive through West Virginia and Virginia was one of the prettiest I remember.  The never ending foothills covered with green trees that were just starting to change.  West Virginia's slogan is "Wild and Wonderful" and it certainly was.  I was meandering through North Carolina, sort of sad my drive was almost over when I saw an exit sign for Mt. Pilot.  Wait, what?  Mt. Pilot?  Like from Andy Griffith?  There really is such a place?  Indeed there is!  And there is even a restaurant called Aunt Bea's.  I've been there.  I also stopped at Pilot Mountain state park and drove to the summit.  Today was foggy, windy and drizzly, but this is the time of year for hawk migration and it turns out Pilot Mountain is one of the counting points.  If next Friday is a little nicer, I will be going back to count hawks!

The convention center/hotel in Greensboro looks like it was built in the 50s.  It has one large tower and two small ones.  There are more than 1000 hotel rooms and countless conference rooms.  My room looks like it has been recently updated.  It's nice, but the bathroom is weird.  Specifically, the shower is weird.  There is no tub, just an enormous shower stall with only a half sheet of glass floor to ceiling and no door.  The shower head is mounted to the ceiling and rains down over the drain.  I have to step completely out of the water to adjust the faucet.  There is no towel bar convenient and no curtain rod or side of the tub or other place to hang a towel.  The toilet is right on the other side of the shower glass so the only place for a towel (other than the rack all the way across the large room or the bar behind the toilet) is the floor in front of the toilet.  GROSS!  The way the shower is set up with a huge area out of the water, there is no floor mat.  I had to lay a towel on the floor in front of the toilet to set my clean towel on.  Weird. 

Tomorrow I'm going on a pre-conference trip to the Duke Lemur Center.  It's a place I've always wanted to visit and now I get to go AND go behind the scenes.  Tomorrow night is the conference ice breaker at the Greensboro Science Center that is also a zoo and aquarium.  Monday through Thursday are conference days with a trip to the North Carolina Zoo thrown in at some point.  I've got a few extras planned for the evenings.  It should be a fun week!

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